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Theatre Review (LA): Four Clowns Romeo and Juliet at the LA Fringe Festival

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In a previous review I said just how much I loved the work of the Four Clowns who, if they can raise some cash through Kickstarter, will tour this summer to the San Francisco and Minnesota Fringe Festivals. In 2010 they received several awards and nominations for their work—the Hollywood Fringe Award for Best Physical Theatre, Hollywood Fringe Award nomination for Best World Premiere, and Bitter Lemons Award nomination for Most Outrageous Theatre.

The company consists of four archetypal clowns (Nervous, Mischievous, Angry, and Sad) going through stages of life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and death. Their message is that no matter how f—king horrible life can be, at least we can laugh our way through it. Director Jeremy Aluma and his quartet of clowns devised a universal show using classic clowning, dance singing, and improvisation, to create a marvelous evening, or matinee, of theatre.

Well, they are back with a vengeance for this year’s Fringe, doing four performances only of the Four Clowns version of Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps taking their lead from another clownish group in town, the Troubies, they have decided to take on a Shakespeare play. The cast is back with one replacement, though this time they switched around the roles: Kevin Klein as Sad Clown/Romeo,

Raymond Lee as Mischievous Clown/Mercutio, Alexis Jones as Angry Clown/Juliet, and newbie Zach Steel as Nervous Clown/Tybalt.

I did not enjoy the event as much as I did the first show, although the majority of the audience was roaring with laughter. In their other show the clowns were able to stick to their archetypes no matter what roles they played. Here they switch roles frequently and while this can, in itself, be amusing, we lose a lot of the clowns’ personality along the way and the characters, though differentiated, are missing that extra layer.

Still their clowning was masterful and extremely clever. Their performances were scheduled for June 16, 18, 24, and 25. Check with the Fringe Festival for times. They perform Four Clowns Romeo and Juliet at Fringe Central Art/Works Theatre.

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